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Bush Administration Gives Annan Vote of Confidence

The Bush administration has expressed confidence in United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, despite calls for his resignation from several U.S. lawmakers over a scandal involving the U.N.-administered oil-for-food program for Iraq.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Danforth, said Thursday that President Bush has confidence in Mr. Annan, and dismissed speculation the administration was trying to push the Ghanaian diplomat out.

Mr. Danforth also stressed the importance of a U.S. investigation of the oil-for-food program, saying it would be the only way to - in his words - lift the cloud from the United Nations.

Several prominent Africans, including Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, are defending the secretary-general. The African statesmen are linking the calls for Mr. Annan's resignation to his sharp differences with President Bush over the U.S.-led war in Iraq.